The air is thick with anticipation. The boxing community is abuzz with whispers of an epic showdown scheduled for February 10th at the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas. The iconic Oscar De La Hoya has dropped hints, teasing a grand match between the prodigious Ryan Garcia and either the formidable Teofimo Lopez or the talented Devin Haney. But for this clash of titans to take place, Garcia must first tackle and defeat Oscar Duarte on December 2nd.
This proposition, however, has not been without its share of detractors. A common refrain among boxing purists is that after his forthcoming fight against the lightweight contender Oscar Duarte, Garcia may not have sufficiently proven himself worthy of challenging the WBO 140-lb champion Teofimo or Haney. They argue that the tried-and-true path would have Garcia facing off against a contender from the 140-lb category, not the 135-lb division.
De La Hoya, in an engaging interaction with the Fighthype YouTube channel, painted a vivid picture of what fans might expect, “Imagine Super Bowl weekend, the Super Bowl of boxing. Ryan Garcia-Teofimo Lopez or even Devin Haney. Add to that, on the undercard, a thrilling bout between Shakur [Stevenson] and William Zepeda. And the cherry on top? A face-off between Jaime Munguia and either Derevyanchenko or Berlanga.”
But the shadow of Garcia’s past continues to linger. His unexpected knockout loss to Gervonta Davis in the previous April stands as a blemish on his otherwise stellar record. The aftermath of the fight polarized fans, with a significant portion believing Garcia capitulated after receiving a punishing body blow from Davis. The unforgettable scene of Garcia swiftly regaining his composure post-countdown, nonchalantly retreating to his corner, remains a point of contention.
Nevertheless, De La Hoya, ever the visionary, is of the firm belief that should Garcia’s fight coincide with Super Bowl weekend against either Lopez or Haney at the avant-garde MSG Sphere, it would generate a tidal wave of attention and interest. While the intricate dynamics of boxing politics might pose hurdles in finalizing whether Garcia squares off against Lopez or Haney, De La Hoya remains undeterred and sanguine.
In the run-up to this much-touted showdown, Garcia’s imminent battle against Oscar Duarte on December 2nd is pivotal. Duarte, armed with a commendable record of 26-1-1 and 21 KOs, poses a genuine threat. De La Hoya was quick to jump to Garcia’s defense against naysayers, stating, “People who lack knowledge in boxing are egregiously mistaken. How can one critique Ryan when he’s braving a bout against a knockout maestro like Oscar Duarte? Post a knockout, one typically opts for a lighter fight. Ryan, however, is rolling the dice.”
Duarte, although ranked a commendable #10 in the lightweight category, is perceived by many as the underdog. His relatively languid hand and foot speed are cited as potential vulnerabilities that Garcia might exploit.
The stakes for Garcia are sky-high. His bout against Duarte will be his maiden venture with his newly-acquired trainer, Derrick James. Any unfavorable outcome might prompt swift changes in his coaching entourage.
Beyond the immediate challenge that Duarte poses, De La Hoya envisions grandeur for early 2024. If a match with Lopez doesn’t materialize, Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero emerges as a strong alternative, provided he retains the WBA 140-lb title. Intriguingly, leaked footage from a sparring session depicted Garcia under a barrage from Rolly, adding another layer of speculation regarding potential face-offs.
Elaborating on Duarte’s prowess, De La Hoya underscored, “Here you have a contender with a streak of eleven consecutive knockouts. He’s a dynamo, an aggressive power puncher who will undoubtedly compel Ryan to bring his A-game. After the jolting knockout loss to Gervonta, this is the quintessential comeback fight for Ryan.”
Looking ahead, De La Hoya is eager to convert plans into reality. He voiced his intent saying, “Engaging with Bob [Arum] would be insightful, shedding light on Teofimo’s plans.”
With December 2nd fast approaching, one fact is irrefutable: should things go as envisioned, the MSG Sphere on February 10th could host a bout that would be etched in boxing folklore. Garcia’s quest for redemption is fraught with challenges, but with the legendary De La Hoya championing his cause, the sky is truly the limit.